Elizabeth Abunaw, founder and CEO of Forty Acres Fresh Market, a Black-owned startup grocer that offers fresh and healthy food options on Chicago’s West Side, has been awarded $2.5 million in grant funding from the city. She plans to use the funds to transition her pop-up store to a brick-and-mortar store.
Elizabeth founded the grocer in 2018 with the aim to improve food access in the community which had been a food desert. She has since been running pop-ups, farmer markets, a storefront that operates on weekends, and a grocery delivery service. But she has always dreamed of opening a brick-and-mortar store.
Her dream came true as the city of Chicago backs the development of Forty Acres Fresh Market with a $2.5 million grant, funded under the Chicago Recovery Plan. The grant is set to fund part of the grocery store’s construction costs including plumbing, mechanical, and electrical work for equipment such as refrigerators and freezers.
The store is expected to bring fresh and healthy food choices closer to the people in the neighborhood. Abunaw added that it will also benefit other nearby businesses and build cohesion in a community as part of its social infrastructure. The increased foot traffic and local dollars being circulated within the Austin community can “slowly start to shift the perception that there’s nothing on Chicago” Avenue, she said.
“We want people to start associating good shopping experiences with Austin,” Elizabeth said. “It’s not just buying food. It’s the people, it’s the customer service. It’s the frozen food aisle and discovering new things you didn’t even know you needed.”